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Zwentendorf nuclear power station

Zwentendorf is the only Austrian nuclear power station. It has projected power 730 MWe.

It's start-up was blocked in November 1978 by a thin majority of 50.47% votes.

Citizens movement START ZWENTENDORF organizes Austrian-Czech border blockades and demonstrations to start-up the nuclear power station in Zwentendorf in Austria because:

Closed Zwentendorf causes radioactivity exposure

Why does the closed Zwentendorf plant cause radioactive fallout?

Austria imports electricity, which is produced in coal burning power plants (mostly lignite). Coal typically contains 5-15 ppm of uranium, however in some locations such as Nejdek the uranium concentration reaches 1%. When the coal is burned, uranium spreads into the atmosphere. The decision to not run the Zwentendorf plant therefore results in at least 10 tons of radioactive fallout per year. For comparison, had Zwentendorf been running, it would produce about 7 tons of solid radioactive wastes (recyclable partially spent fuel) and no radioactive fallout.

The alternative to uranium is coal. Coal contains uranium, burning of coal causes radioactive emissions. Inactivated Zwentendorf causes radioactive fallout.

More here:

A coal power plant in Dürnrohr was build nearby, instead of the nuclear power plant Zwentendorf. This plant burns Czech and Polish coal. There is a trash burning facility nearby also. [1] (the link is in German).

Austria is a net importer of electricity, see the links above. The amount of imported electricity increases, consequently increasing Austrian export of the radioactive emissions.

Closed Zwentendorf is dangerous

Austria imports about 20 TWh of electricity per year. Czech Republic, the only net exporter of electricity in middle Europe, is and will be the supplier. Production of electricity in Czech thermal power plants results, besides the radioactive emissions mentioned above, in the following dangerous emissions:

  • solid particles, which cause lung cancer and other severe illnesses
  • heavy metals, which are the cause of severe illnesses
  • sulfur dioxide, which causes acid rains and damages health
  • carbon dioxide, which is the most important greenhouse gas which cause global climate changes
  • oxides of nitrogen, which cause smog and contribute to global climate changes

Closed Zwentendorf in numbers

Inactive Zwentendorf, which was replaced by coal burning power plants, results in the following yearly consumptions and emissions:

consumption [tons/year]
coal 1 400 000
oxygen 4 340 000
emissions [tons/year]
NOx 19 600
CO2 4 620 000
SO2 39 900
solid wastes 290 500
radioactive emissions 10

Due to Zwentendorf plant inactivity during the 27 years period, carbon fuel burning power plants discharged into the atmosphere 63 km³ of carbon dioxide (CO2 density at normal pressure is 1,98 kg/m³). This amount of carbon dioxide corresponds to a column of atmosphere of ground plan over 10 km².

However, Zwentendorf was only the first of six nuclear power plants envisaged. The referendum therefore canceled these projects as well. Considering a 40 years lifetime of the six plants plants, the referendum had decided about the following wastes and emissions :

  • 560 km³ of CO2
  • 3.8 km³ of SO2
  • 1.4 km³ of NOx
  • 70 million tons of solid wastes including arsenic, cadmium, mercury and other heavy metals
  • 2400 tons of radioactive elements, mostly uranium and thorium

Closed Zwentendorf is uneconomic

Production of electricity by fossil fuel combustion is very expensive, once the indirect costs are included.

For instance in 2007 the price of 1 ton of CO2 emissions is estimated to 16 EUR. Therefore, the cost of replacing loss of Zwentendorf costs about 74 000 000 EUR each year. Some estimate that the price will rise above 100 EUR/ton of CO2. Only the price of CO2 emissions can soon reach half billion EUR per year.

Running Zwentendorf utilized to 90 % would produce 5 800 000 000 kWh of electricity per year, nearly 6 billion kWh. Inactive Zwentendorf thus bears additional costs which can be estimated up to 900 million EUR per year, over a 1.2 billion USD annually, account taken of the price of electricity for Austrian households of 0.152 EUR/kWh. Conservative estimates of economic losses using wholesale electricity price of 0.05 EUR/kWh amount to nearly 300 million EUR each year. (Electricity prices are provided by Eurostat.)

Inactive Zwentendorf is expensive. Inactive Zwentendorf is uneconomic.

Thus, we demand

  • Termination of populists, alibists and anti-environmental politics of Austrian government.
  • Decrease of the radioactive fallout level in middle Europe.
  • Immediate activation of the nuclear power plant in Zwentendorf.


Citizens movement START ZWENTENDORF is a partnership organization of STOP TEMELIN. START ZWENTENDORF organizes demonstrations and blockades of Austrian-Czech border, until the nuclear power plant Zwentendorf is brought on-line.

Do you want to help? Do you want to participate in the blockades? Join us! Add your name, preferably with academic and other titles, at the end of the list in the Czech version.

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